January 6, 2009
Wander the winding streets of Shaughnessy and you’ll be met with a pretty persistent contradiction. There’s still a thrilling number of porte-cocheres to draw your carriage under, and the mock-Tudor mansions still hunker on sprawling lots bespeaking the privilege of the CPR execs the area was originally set aside for. But Shaughnessy’s century-old homes are moss-bedraggled, too; some have rotting drapes and overgrown gardens that simultaneously murmur “I don’t believe we’ve met” and “Buddy, can you spare a dime?” When the Great Depression hit Vancouver, the neighbourhood became known as Mortgage Heights. Property taxes were held at pre-Depression rates; many residents were forced to convert their homes into rooming houses. (In 1981, a development plan aimed at preserving the area put a brake on subdivision and density.) There are still tenants among the manors—a friend went to visit such a lodger recently and was accosted by the homeowner, who was giving a party and seemed torn between a sense of invasion and humiliation at the fact of his divided home. Given the current climate, similar awkwardness could soon migrate into the inflated ’hoods of Point Grey and Altamont.
Click on Additional Images to view demographics, real estate prices and more.